First Mother’s Day Without Mom

May Day Queen

Mom and me celebrating my being crowned May Day Queen in 6th grade because of academic achievements

My memories of mom are of standing next to the piano and beating time with her hands like a human metronome as I practiced playing songs. I started piano lessons when I was 7-years-old, and continued all the way through high school and into college at the Conservatory of Music at University of Pacific in Stockton, California. Along the way, I learned ‘ukulele, taught myself to play guitar, and entertained audiences. All of our family parties involved gathering around the piano and playing music.

Read more about growing up in Hawaii.

On February 10, 2017 my mom passed away making me a motherless child (my dad died on August 14, 2012.) On March 10, during my mom’s Celebration of Life, I presented a 6-minute slideshow movie titled “Fong Family Memories – A Tribute To My Parents.” The slideshow chronicled 93 years of my mom’s life and gives a sense of where I come from. It was hard to talk about my mom without also talking about my dad as they were married for 68 years when he passed away. It’s easy to see the musical influence and joy of making music that my parents instilled in me from a young age. In the background you’ll hear the music of Kui Lee singing “Days of My Youth” which he wrote when he was dying from cancer and dedicated to his son.

View the tribute on my YouTube channel at

Another memory of my mom was feeling her pride when I was crowned May Day queen for a day in 6th grade when I was selected based on scholastic achievement by my elementary school teachers for the annual program. In Hawaii, May 1st is celebrated with May Day school programs including a royal king and queen, and princesses representing the 8 Hawaiian Islands. It was a big deal to be selected as Queen. Our royal court sat underneath the shade of the huge monkey pod tree while children from classes K-6 performed Hawaiian dances for us. Today, elementary schools stagger their May Day programs throughout the month rather than only on May 1st.

This year we are celebrating Mother’s Day with friends Jim and Julie Bills who are visiting from Brisbane, Australia. We had them over to our house for a jam session after they attended my Sing-Along with Mele Fong series: Flower and Lei Songs on Thursday, May 4th. Read the program review and see their picture.

I remember my dad saying, “Music is the universal language. It will open doors for you.” How true that is as we continue to make musical connections and friends with people from all over the world.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele